Independent jewellers call for suppliers to help bolster business during difficult trading conditions

Independent jewellery retailers say a stronger relationship with suppliers is key to driving growth during difficult trading conditions.

Talking exclusively as a roundtable during the Company of Master Jewellers’ latest trade show, independents voiced concerns that there needs to be more cooperation between the retailers and suppliers.

Judith Hart of the namesake store in Derby, shared: “I don’t think it is just down to us as retailers. I do feel there should be more cooperation between the retailers and the suppliers. They want their brand to look good in the windows – so help us. Take back some dead stock and use your clearance opportunities. That will then help us to keep things fresh and new for the customers, and hopefully that will attract them.”

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Independent jewellers often struggle with brands, particularly those that are regularly launching new pieces, slashing the prices of last season’s stock when new products are introduced, and leaving retailers with dead stock.

To prevent this, Dipples managing director Chris Ellis gets brands to provide a written guarantee that if sales do not perform within the first 12 months the stock can be returned.

Ellis explains: “With any firm we deal with, especially a brand, we get a written guarantee that if sales do not perform within the first 12 months stock goes back and we get a full credit, and also that they do stock swaps and it is not on a two for one basis, it’s on a like-for-like basis. Because if they are going to support us that way, I am going to support them by spending money.”

Other jewellers agreed that a deal like that would make them more supportive of a brand.

You are more likely to replenish,” shares Jeremy France Jewellers director, Harriet France. “If you can get a one for one deal, then that means you are more likely to want to replenish the items which are selling through, whereas if you are going to buy a one for two you will think you’ve still got too much stock and you can’t justify buying the core best sellers again. You can’t justify having that volume of that particular brand.”

Hart echoes: “It is particularly difficult with the brands. Because people are so much savvier, they know that stock is last season and they don’t want it anymore.”

In addition, jewellers stocking fine jewellery products say suppliers can support them more by making it easier to offer bespoke services.

France explains: “For me, key factors to drive growth for us as an independent jeweller is the ability to customise and say yes to whatever the request is. Being able to offer bespoke services. So not focusing so much on the brands but the fine jewellery side. And I think for us what we are finding more and more is customers want slight modifications on an item they see in a window — just to have a personal touch and to know they’ve made that conscious decision to make it unique. And I think the suppliers can support the independents like ourselves in that sense. It’s being able to provide images for social media, to show customers more visual options without having to carry the livestock, and sending regular stock lists of their new stones, because there is nothing more of a pain then having to leave your customer for 15 minutes while you call five different companies to get stone lists.”

“Companies like Raphael Gemex have a fantastic facility on their website where you can customise with your own branding on top so it is non comparative, and there is actually an option to change the colour of the metal, so if someone is looking for yellow gold they don’t have to look at a white one on screen, and they give you all the different quality options, and that’s what customers need to see. You can show them four different metals and three different quality options,” adds France.

“Online lists are very good,” adds T A Henn company director, John Henn. “It is very easy to upsell on products using that because you’ve got all the information in front of you and it is great tool alongside the samples.”

The jewellers concluded they should not be afraid to ask suppliers questions which will benefit both parties.

“My motto to my staff is I want you to make it as easy as possible for that customer to buy from us, and I think that the suppliers should make it as easy as possible for us to buy from them.”

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